Monday, 1 May 2017

Painting Spring with Spring

I realise my photo-collage efforts leave the more photographically-inclined visitors here slightly baffled, but what I enjoy is what amounts to painting with photographic elements. For example, by combining various photographs from our Easter in Wales, I can produce pictures which say more, to me at least, about the experience of that time in that place, its feeling and meaning, than the photographs can by themselves. That wrought-iron gate at Hergest Croft, for example, somehow embodies something for me that, simply presented as itself, it fails to convey. Used as a key element in each of these four new pictures, however, with varying degrees of (un)subtlety, and varying degrees of "realism", it becomes something more than itself.

Quite what it becomes I couldn't say, but that, for me, is the whole point of developing a personal visual language: I can "say" with it the things I don't consciously, verbally, know that I know, or mean to mean, without having to relying on the accidental correspondences of photography. It's also a way of signalling than these images are not intended as a simple window onto a real world "out there", which, I'm afraid, is how most people see a straight photograph.


Anonymous said...


the second and fourth collage strike me as something like a "condensation" of your Wales pictures. For me as someone from the "straight photography" camp, it seems that your collages leave much less leeway for interpretation as compared to straight photographs, they are somehow more "dense".

Secondly, about these things that you know, but can't express verbally - do you think there is a relation to poetry? This is a question which occupies me for some time now, and I'm trying to read up about it, but as a Literature graduate, you certainly know much more about this. I would certainly appreciate a blog post or two which deal with this!

Best, Thomas

Mike C. said...


Yes, I suppose that's probably true, in the same way a pencil portrait differs from a photo. The mark-making is more deliberate.

On the second, yes, there is a parallel with poetry -- a poet (or at least a certain sort of poet) is trying to use language to "say" what cannot directly or simply be said with language. How this works is a mystery, though, and, as so many poets have said, if I could explain what I want to say, I wouldn't need to write these poems!


Omer said...

These remind me of traditional folk art, not a bad thing. I like the second and third, but the second one is more evocative, to me anyway. Have you made "final" prints of any of your collages and shown them to outsiders?

Mike C. said...


Yes, that's the idea -- a sort of pseudo-naive, folksy look.

Yes, I have shown a few, with varying responses, but once I've got a really solid body of work (say, 50 or so A-grade images) I'm going to be pushing them harder. I'll also need to be getting a pigment-ink printer to replace my ageing Epson dye-ink printer...